People are becoming more and more concerned with ingredients and what they are putting on their body as well as into their body. However, when it comes to skincare, ingredients can often be a minefield. While natural products and natural skincare are what people tend to favour, skincare labels are usually plastered with scientific-sounding names, and this can unintentionally put people off. Actually, many of those fancy-looking names you see are essential vitamins or naturally-derived ingredients, and such ingredients are believed to be more effective when it comes to skincare.
Nature does of course provide a variety of powerful botanicals, but it’s also the source of harmful substances like mould and bacteria. A naturally-derived ingredient is extracted from natural sources so that it can be harnessed in its most potent form. It is then combined with science to make sure it’s stabilised and to ensure performance is not compromised. Therefore, if high quality skincare is something you are after, the following vitamins and naturally-derived ingredients are what you should be looking for.
On first glance this skincare ingredient sounds quite harsh but actually ascorbic acid is the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) name for vitamin C. Vitamin C has a lot to contribute to skin health; it’s an antioxidant vitamin since it protects cells from oxidative stress, but it’s also an essential vitamin when it comes to the production of collagen. Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation, and collagen is essential in ensuring skin functions as it should. Collagen is found naturally in connective tissues within the dermis (the layer of skin beneath the surface layer) and its role is to support and strengthen skin. As you age, collagen production slows, but using skincare containing ingredients that support collagen can help to replace collagen that’s been lost.
Vitamin C is also naturally found in the dermis and epidermis (outer layer of skin), with higher levels residing in the epidermis. Excessive exposure to UV rays and pollutants can decrease vitamin C content in the skin, and levels will also naturally diminish as the skin ages. Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, explains that although the benefits of vitamin C have been known for some time, its role within skincare has been more widely discussed of late. Dr Mahto says, “This may be because we’re much more aware of our environment and the way it’s affecting our skin – we’re a lot more aware of environmental pollutants such as radiation, sunlight and smoke, which break down collagen, stressing the skin and accelerating the ageing process. As vitamin C helps to counter that process and can be used to treat such a variety of issues, it’s become a bit of a hero ingredient.”
Be aware that vitamin C in topical skincare can also degrade if products are exposed to light or air, which is why it’s important to keep products away from direct sunlight. If you are concerned with anti-ageing, serums packaged in air-tight containers offering a pumping action will best protect the precious ingredients within.
Marine Collagen Hydrolysate
The important word here if you’re looking for anti-ageing skincare is ‘collagen’. If you see an ingredient listed as Marine Collagen Hydrolysate it means the collagen used derives from marine sources rather than bovine or chicken. Fish collagen is usually extracted from discarded scales and other parts considered waste products during the manufacturing process (this helps to reduce environmental pollution), and it is also believed to absorb better than other animal collagen thanks to smaller particles and a low molecular weight.
Marine Collagen Hydrolysate is widely respected as an anti-ageing skincare ingredient used in both supplements and topical products. It’s rich in fatty acids to assist skin hydration and moisture retention, and to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Toco-what? You’re not alone if you’re struggling to figure out how to pronounce this common skincare ingredient, so you may find it easier to stick to calling it vitamin E! Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused when there is an imbalance of certain molecules in the body. If the body is exposed to harmful substances such as radiation, cigarette smoke, UV light, pollution or poor nutritional choices, cells can become stressed as there may not be enough antioxidants in the body to neutralise the effects of these intruders. Cells naturally produce antioxidants such as glutathione, but certain vitamins can also add to the supply. If your body does fall victim to long-term damage caused by oxidative stress, your cells, proteins and DNA can alter which may lead to ageing or the development of more serious conditions. Vitamin E can be obtained from nuts, seeds, oils and leafy greens. In skincare, tocopherol is often extracted from sunflower seed oil or other vegetable oils.
Another mouthful, but you can breathe a sigh of relief as niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3 or niacin. Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin which means your body doesn’t store it, so you need to ensure you’re consuming a diet rich in vitamin B3 daily. Meat, nuts, seeds and green vegetables will provide you with a sufficient source of B3.
Niacinamide is a specific form of vitamin B3 that is believed to be beneficial when used in skincare, since niacin contributes to the maintenance of normal skin. Clinical facialist Kate Kerr says, “[Niacinamide] is very effective in improving the skin’s barrier function while preventing environmental damage and trans-epidermal water loss. This diverse ingredient even has antibacterial effects; this regulates sebum, improves congestion and calms breakouts.”
Whether your skin is oily, dry or combination, niacinamide is a skincare ingredient that deserves to feature within your everyday routine. Seek out formulas that can be left to seep into the skin for maximum absorption and effective results.
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is present in various nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. It is also found abundantly in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. The stratum corneum functions as a protective barrier to prevent harmful allergens, bacteria and irritants from entering the deeper layers of skin. If this barrier is weakened, skin conditions and ageing may occur.
When it comes to skincare, linoleic acid adopts the role of an emollient. An emollient softens and soothes skin and it is often chosen for its calming properties. When applied topically, linoleic acid can help to replenish the skin’s protective barrier, which is why it is often a favourite ingredient in skincare formulas.
Beta-glucan is extracted from mushrooms, plants, algae, yeasts or oats. This polysaccharide sugar is found in the cell walls of such flora and when utilised as a skincare ingredient, it is believed to soothe skin and even tone. While some ingredients may be unsuitable for certain skin types, beta-glucan is a skincare ingredient that can benefit all skin, from oily to dry. Moisturisers, toners and restoring creams are skincare products that often contain beta-glucan, so make sure you check your products carefully to make sure they contain this naturally-derived ingredient.
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
Most people have heard of the aloe vera plant, but did you know that there are over 400 species of aloe? Aloe Barbadensis Miller is the most beneficial variety to humans, with properties that aid digestion, that are great for the immune system, and that benefit skin health. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice refers to the inner most gel extracted from the Aloe Barbadensis Miller plant. It is this parenchyma gel that is believed to contain the core nutrients, including amino acids, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. Skincare products containing a high quantity of pure inner aloe vera gel can deliver natural moisturisation and hydration, as well as soothing and balancing properties. In fact, the pH of aloe is 5.5, the same as ‘normal’ skin and a balanced complexion.
If you are concerned with natural skincare ingredients, you can’t go wrong with aloe vera. Forever’s aloe vera is grown at its own plantations in the Dominican Republic and Texas. This means Forever can keep track of exactly how the crop is grown, what types of fertilisers are used and the specific processes the aloe goes through before it is added to your skincare products. Pure inner gel is extracted by hand and processing is completed within six hours of initial harvest to ensure all the aloe’s beneficial properties remain intact.
Do any of your favourite skincare products contain these ingredients? Let us know in the comments below.